Waterford hosts 1st playoff game tonight
WATERFORD — Bishop Rosecrans needed about nine different scenarios to go just right for a shot at the postseason.
But Rosecrans coach Mark Johnston told his team before it took the field last Saturday to worry about just one thing.
“I told them to take care of what they can control,” he said.
Rosecrans did just that as they routed Conotton Valley 70-6. Impressive, but eight of those nine dominoes fell into place. So the Bishops still needed a little more luck – most notably a loss by Portsmouth Notre Dame.
“We had a running clock in the second half, so our game got over a little quicker,” Johnston said. “So with technology and all, someone found a Portsmouth radio station and we listened to the end of the game. Notre Dame tried to throw a halfback pass and it got picked off by Sciotoville East. Our guys went crazy when that happened.”
Rosecrans (7-3) earned a spot in the Division VI, Region 27 playoffs against top-seeded Waterford (9-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“Any time the No. 8 seed plays a No. 1 on the road it’s going to be a tall task, but our kids have fought through everything they have faced,” Johnston said.
Waterford coach Eric McCutcheon said the Wildcats are excited to host a playoff game.
“That’s never been done at Waterford,” he said. “It’s a big deal for our program and a big deal for the community.”
McCutcheon said everyone in that part of Washington County is talking about postseason football.
“I don’t know how much work anyone is getting done because all anyone is doing is talking about Waterford and Fort Frye football,” he said. The Bishops have gone from 0-10 four years ago to the playoffs. Johnston’s son, Travis, basically owns or is near the top in almost every rushing category and a few on defense as well. The 205-pound senior has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his career, including 130 and three touchdowns last week.
He also returned a kickoff 67 yards for a score and picked up a fumble and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.
“He’s a big back who will run the ball a lot out of the I-formation,” McCutcheon said.
Quarterback Jack Nash completed 7 of 11 passes for 148 yards and three TDS, while Aaron Gehlken – one of Muskingum County’s top receivers – had six receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns against Conotton Valley.
The Wildcats rolled past Belpre 68-0 last week behind another strong performance by quarterback Isaac Huffman, who scored three rushing touchdowns on runs of 1, 3 and 10 yards.
“Their quarterback looks like he’s more than capable,” Johnston said. “He loves to run more than he throws it.”
Running back Tyler McCutcheon remains another serious ground threat after he rushed for 217 yards to go over the 1,000-yard mark on the season against Belpre. He also had two TDs.
Rosecrans’ three losses came against Coshocton (44-14), Claymont (39-15) and Barnesville (22-15).
Waterford is averaging 45 points a game, while only giving up 9.1 points a game. The Wildcats’ lone loss came against rival Fort Frye, who went 10-0 for a second straight season and will host a playoff game on Friday.
“Losing to Fort Frye is what it is. That loss doesn’t take away from anything Waterford accomplished this year,” Johnston said.
McCutcheon said he’s doing his best to maintain as much normalcy as possible.
“I don’t want the guys changing their routine,” he said. “I want to keep this as low key as possible. Our kids have had a great week of practice and we have great senior leadership, so I think we’ll be ready to play Saturday.”